3 April 2009

Terenzo's Back? This Could Be Good.

The subject of the latest email update from XTERRA? "Terenzo's back". Oh, man.

Do you know Terenzo? I do, mainly because between the ages of fourteen and seventeen I had the world's most ridiculous, and unrequited crush EVER on him. You wouldn't blame me though, if you've seen and/or met him.

Last year, Terenzo had his life built around making the Olympic Triathlon team. When it didn't happen, which was the biggest blow of his mostly stellar career, he "retaliated" by winning nearly every race he entered for the next six months. The team announcement was made about this time last year, around the World Triathlon Festival race weekend in New Plymouth, which I also attended. After the disappointment of his non-selection, Terenzo didn't fare too well in that weekend's event, but he came back with a vengeance just six days later.

It was only on the Thursday before XTERRA, when race lists were posted, that I saw his name, nestled amongst the likes of Tim Wilding and Mark Leishman, that suddenly the event got a whole lot more interesting. Terenzo is sponsored by Specialized (bastard, I know), and they hooked him up with a suitable bike for the event which, not without an epic battle, he took apart.

He was first out of the swim - by a mentionable margin, and then Cabin passed him on the bike course, which, unbeknownst to me, had just gotten a whole lot harder as the course had changed from previous years. Not that Terenzo let anyone know. He, Cabin and my cousin of some shape or form, Scott Thorne, battled it out over trails like Billy T and Split Enz. The three emerged from the Blue Lake walking track and into transition, Scott now in front with 1:21.25, followed by Cabin's 1:23.03 to Terenzo's 1:24.25. As with nearly every triathlon on the face of the earth, however, being a prodigy cyclist as are Scott and Cabin, isn't enough. And Terenzo is one of the best runners the sport has to offer. Uh oh.

Off they went, around Blue Lake twice, running probably as fast as they ever had. Cabin turned in a tidy 44:26 for a total time of 2:07.29 (the entire course is 1km swim, 26km mountain bike, 11km run... so that time is just way beyond ridiculous), but he was just pipped along the beach by the victory-hungry Terenzo, who managed 2:07.09. Scott came in third in 2:08.48.
At prizegiving when Terenzo relenquished his spot on the World Championship team in favour of chasing 70.3 titles, Scott was thrilled to take up the place. He later placed 17th at Worlds in Maui, while Cabin was 21st on not a hell of a lot of sport specific training.

Don't be fooled by the frivolous white suit.
This guy means business.

I underestimated Terenzo last year. He'd only done two off-road bike races before, and I know from experience that road cycling ability quite often doesn't transfer as much as you'd like to the trails. I expected him to be somewhere in the top five. Not first.

So this year, Terenzo's back. Cabin and his much-idolised-by-me girlfriend Nic Leary have been training like no-one's business and I have absolute confidence that she'll win the women's title. Cabin has got something of a battle on his hands, but it's nothing he can't handle. Add to the mix that Scott has become even more formidable than before on the mountain bike, and I doubt he's been ignoring his swim like previous years, so XTERRA this year just got a whole lot more interesting. I can't wait!

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